Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Nov. 10, 2003 12:54 am/pm
Yoo Hoo, Disney EchoEars!
Take a look at this article in the Los Angeles Times (free registration is required to view it):
Disneyland's Ride Upkeep Criticized by Park Workers
Longtime crew members say a push for efficiency has affected safety. Experts insist modern methods work and are effective.
"I have a lot of loyalty to Disneyland, but I feel that somebody's got to say something about how they're operating out there," said Bob Penfield, who worked on the park's rides from opening day until his retirement as a supervisor in 1997. "When Disneyland opened, safety was the No. 1 thing. Now they say that today too. But I think over time, profit became more important."
Another worker, in an interview with state investigators after a parkgoer was killed in 1998 by an iron cleat that broke off the Columbia sailing ship, said the change in maintenance procedures made it difficult to get rides fixed quickly. He and a second worker told investigators that wood around the cleat was weak, though this was never formally identified as a cause of the accident.
"The climate that we're operating in here has changed dramatically in the last few years," said veteran ride operator Tom Bugler, according to a recording of his interview with investigators. "I am one that calls routinely every week for things to get repaired, and normally they aren't repaired." Bugler still works at the park. He would not comment for this story.
In one instance, Bugler told investigators, a railing collapsed on a bridge leading to the Columbia. He said he was forced to close the attraction because maintenance had no carpenters to fix the railing. And when a worker finally arrived, it was a machinist who left the rotting wood intact and made a makeshift fix with metal.
Before 1997, Bugler told inspectors, each ride had its own maintenance crew and supervisor. "People were just sitting in the back just waiting for something to happen," he said. "Everything was maintained in such pristine condition, we never had to think about anything deteriorating. If something was falling apart, they would come out almost instantly to fix it."
Pressler Made Changes
The change at Disneyland was overseen by Paul Pressler, a former toy industry executive and former chief of Walt Disney Co.'s retail stores who became the park's president in late 1994. By the time he was promoted to head the company's theme-park division seven years later, Pressler earned a reputation as a cost-cutter who cared deeply about Disney's stock price.
Not long after Pressler arrived, the management consulting firm McKinsey and Co. was hired to reorganize the park's facilities, engineering and construction division, which is responsible for inspecting and repairing Disneyland's rides.
In 1997, McKinsey recommended that the facilities division's budget for 2000 be cut by nearly 25% to produce a savings of $16.9 million, according to a copy of the report summary prepared for Pressler. Eventually, 317 of the division's 738 jobs could be cut, the report said.
McKinsey said the majority of the maintenance staff should be moved to the graveyard shift to improve efficiency. The consultants concluded that entrenched managers were "often the source of change resistance." These up-from-the-ranks craftsmen lacked the skills and formal education needed to create "world-class maintenance" management. They didn't understand concepts such as cost-benefit analysis and break-even analysis. Half of these 68 supervisors should be transferred or let go, McKinsey said, and the number of managers should be cut by nearly a quarter.
"There was a major cultural shift that focused on economics — being as lean an operation as possible to maximize profit at Disneyland," said one former park executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because he signed an agreement not to talk about the company. "The message was: Do more with less."
Because so few mechanics were left on day shifts, for example, "We could have three rides down at any one time," while the park was open, said a former mechanic who worked on a skeleton daytime crew.
"One time, Indiana Jones went down for a dead vehicle. We responded to that. It was a computer problem. Then Peter Pan goes down. The supervisor said 'Go to Peter Pan — leave Indiana Jones alone.' When we got there, people were hanging in the air on Peter Pan."
Old Versus New
Goodwin recalled a confrontation that typifies the old thinking and the new: Bob Klostriech, a supervisor who was fired in 1999, was quizzed by a McKinsey consultant who was reviewing records for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Why, the consultant asked, do you inspect the lap bars daily? The records show they never fail.
"Klostriech called him an idiot," said Goodwin, who witnessed the exchange. Klostriech, he said, told the consultant: "The reason they don't fail is because we check them every night."
...a comment that three workers say Pressler made in January 1998 during an impromptu visit to the Disneyland Railroad's workshop.
"He said, 'We have to ride these rides to failure to save money,' " said David O'Neill, a train operator who has worked at the park since 1957 and was among those present. "I was surprised anyone would say that."
Full details. (Free registration is required to view it).
RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator